Kanumuri presented Professional Award in Industrial Engineering

October 26, 2018

Jagannadh Varma Kanumuri, 2018 Professional Award in Industrial Engineering Award WinnerJagannadh Varma Kanumuri was presented with the 2018 Professional Award in Industrial Engineering during the annual Speed School homecoming dinner held October 26 at the Brown Hotel.

Kanumuri is the Founder & CEO of ACI INFOTECH & ACI’s Global Group of Companies where he provides strategic executive leadership and vision for all technology and functional organizations with the global group. He graduated from the Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville with a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering in 2000.

An angel investor and growth adviser in numerous high-growth companies including Lyft, Postmates, Kespry and Autofi, Kanumuri founded ACI INFOTECH in 2006 to build innovative IT solutions to the capital markets industry and quickly expanded the company over the course of the next decade to multiple Industry Verticals. Prior to founding ACI INFOTECH, he worked for six years on Wall Street as a technology specialist and has lead cross functional teams developing & delivering critical applications for major investment banks including Citibank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, ING Investments and Metlife. Kanumuri was also instrumental in establishing multiple business verticals within ACI INFOTECH and build domain competencies for the company across banking & capital markets, higher education, healthcare, e-commerce & logistics, retail, high tech, telecom and manufacturing.

He has created immense value for many clients/businesses by setting their technology direction, digital strategy and execution and has driven the necessary technology rransformation required for their organization success. Additionally, Kanumuri invests and partners with companies in innovative and disruptive technology platforms and products, digital transformation, big data/analytics, management and strategic consulting, companies with strong technology and industry practices, platforms as a service with a unique value proposition.

Helping to connect old and new pavement condition data in pavement asset management

November 5, 2018

Headshot of Lihui Bai

Industrial engineering professor Dr. Lihui Bai was awarded a grant from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) in the amount of $78,720. The funding is part of a project by the KYTC to bridge the gap between their previous system of visually assessing road damage and their current use of a laser crack measurement systems (LCMS).

Driving in the state of Kentucky is often problematic during the spring months of the year, as roadway wear and tear is most evident, manifested by erosion and potholes. Fixing those potholes involves a routine cost analysis to determine not only how much federal resources to request, but how to employ them.

“Every year when the state gets federal dollars to maintain Kentucky roadways, they want to know which road is next to repair or resurface,” said Bai. “The idea of maintenance is to prevent major repairs. They try to do this every year and keep a good record of how the roads looks, and they want to predict how the roads look like next year, so they can appropriate the correct amount of funding.”

Until recently, trained surveyors across the state would drive across the state, assessing and documenting road conditions and collecting that data into a quantifiable database to justify the need for new resources. Such visual evaluations utilize nine points of criteria, each with a Likert-scale point indicating pavement conditions with regard to that criterion.

The new LCMS technology, on the other hand, featuring high resolution images and laser surface profilers, provides measurements on more than 150 variables (or criteria). This technology offers a wider range of data to assess damage, and an alternative data-driven means to gauge the necessity for state funded repair.

Working with the KYTC in the past, Bai is confident that they can create a mapping tool that allows KYTC pavement engineers to study relationships between the old manual system and the new automated approach.

“They don’t want to abandon over 30 years worth of past data, so what they want to do with this project is, to try and establish any quantitative mapping so that in the future, if they gather data from the LCMS, they can map that to the old visual evaluation data,” said Bai. “This creates a unique challenge to establish a quantitative mapping between over 150 variables under one system to only 9 factors under the old system. It’s a challenge and it’s fun. So far, the decision tree based machine learning algorithms have produced promising results. We are continuing to test and refine the predictive models.”

“Eventually, I can see that they can do away with the old visual system,” said Bai. She adds, “but it will take a much longer time for the asset management practices will be able to do that, especially considering Kentucky is one of the early states to embark this kind of research.”

Bai leads a research team consisting of graduate students, Drs. Zhihui Sun, the chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Zhu Xuwen, a professor in the Department of Mathematics.

“Sun is a pavement or concrete expert. We brought in Xuwen from the math department, who specializes in algorithm based classification,” said Bai. “We presented some of this research at the South East States Pavement Conference in Charleston, WV, in October, and are invited to give a talk at the “Advances in Automated Pavement Cracking Data Collection and Analysis” workshop at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in January 2019.”

The grant started July 1st and runs to June 30th of 2019.

Industrial Engineering sophomore Alyssa Smith receives prestigious scholarship

August 10, 2018

 Alyssa Smith, a sophomore in the department of Industrial Engineering, was recently awarded the Jesse Jackson Toyota Scholarship Winner. Smith was selected from a pool of more than 300 applicants, with awardees pulled from African-American college sophomores who have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

The award comes with two mandatory co-ops with Toyota, and was provided through the Rainbow Push Coalition, a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change founded by Reverend Jesse Jackson.

“I love Toyota. The Toyota way was something that I took into consideration. The five pillars, The Toyota Way: Respect, Challenge, Teamwork, Genchi Genbutsu (hands on experience), and Kaizen (constant improvement),” said Smith. “When I was in my interview process, I could explain why and in those five ways. Those are all ways that I try to live my life now.”

To qualify, Smith went to Plano, TX for an onsite, working interview at Toyota. While Smith had limited workforce experience through entry-level positions during high school, she turned to Associate Director Mary Andrade, Co-op Advisor Michael Keibler, and the staff of Office of Career Development and Cooperative Education.

“When I got the call first, I called my mom. Then I ran to the Speed Office. I told Michael, I told Mary. I was so excited," Smith said. "They said that they knew you were gonna get it. They were so happy for me. They’re all like rock stars. They’re all really cool.”

That excitement was reciprocated by the staff in the co-op office, who work for moments like Smith’s, that illustrate our students’ successes.

“We are so proud that she is being rewarded for the fine example that she sets for Speed School students,” said Andrade. “To my knowledge, this is the first time any University of Louisville engineering student has received this national award."

Angela Cline, the assistant director of career development, worked with Smith as a student employee under her instruction. Like Andrade, she was equally impressed with Smith’s work ethic and great attitude, and found writing her scholarship recommendation a pleasure.

“Alyssa is a very bright, enthusiastic, focused and self-motivated young woman in her field of study,” said Cline. “We all agree that Alyssa has proven to be quite an asset as a student employee in the career development office.”

Smith attributes her motivations to her parents, who she credits with stimulating her interest in the field. She hopes that through her experiences and opportunities she can give back to the community, by giving a voice to underrepresented populations.

“I knew that I wanted to be someone who can add seats to the table for people that don’t have a seat. I think a lot of that is just being a minority in STEM, and both my parents are minorities in STEM. It’s a growing field,” said Smith. “My parents put me on a road to STEM. My siblings are looking at STEM.”

She will receive the award at an event in Chicago, August 24 and 25, where she will have an opportunity to meet with Jackson.

Aden receives award from Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering

June 22, 2018

 This last May, recent Industrial Engineering graduate Christopher Aden took first place and won the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering (IISE) 2018 Operations Research Division Undergraduate Research and Dissemination Award. His paper, entitled "Optimization Models for Locating Public Electric Vehicle Charging Stations with Queueing Constraints," a paper that he co-authored with Dr. Lihui Bai. Aden received recognition for the reward at the annual IIISE conference where he received a cash prize of $500 and a plaque to recognize his accomplishments.

“It was pretty nerve wracking, but it went pretty good. They picked a winner from the presentations," said Aden. "They based it 50% on your paper, and 50% from your presentation. It was a good experience.”

Listening to Learn

Graduating in the Spring semester with a Master of Engineering degree in Industrial Engineering, Aden has secured a position at Ring Container, a manufacturing company where he will serve as a production supervisor. During his time as an undergraduate, he worked all of his co-op rotations at GE, which served as his first professional experience.

It was during that time that he learned skills imperative to his continued success in the workforce, primarily in being an effective listener and trusting the expertise of the people that he works with. Aden has channeled that drive for measured consideration through his academic life, and hopes to continue that into his professional career as well.

“Formulating a plan and sticking to it is not always possible. With the line, assembly line, they had some pretty massive assembly line. You have to take into account if you want to change things in one spot, how that would affect things down stream," said Aden. "You have to think of every aspect. I like to look at the big picture of things, and I feel like IE gave me the option to do that, not to just look at my little segment.”

Motivated to improve on processes, Aden seeks the most efficacious means to achieve his desired outcome as possible, a trait that he believes he has carried with him since childhood.  

“One thing that I’ve learned, especially here at Speed School, is identifying the root cause of issues, to be able to completely solve a problem,” Aden said. “Also, something that’s not classroom based, is just learning how to interact with other people on a team. Especially as a production supervisor, I’ll have a lot of interactions.”

His research intends to best identify potential locations for charging stations for electric vehicles. He employed optimization models to seek the ideal location for the placement of each station that accounts for not only where and how many stations to place, but state of charge factors, which measures the time it would take for each vehicle to recharge. Charging stations were divided by passenger and utility vehicles, the latter of which applying to buses and other forms of mass transit.

“One of the things that I learned was that a lot of people have range anxiety, concerns about if they were going to lose their charge,” he said. “I did the base model. The second model considered the things of the base model, but it took into account of queuing considerations, and that was based on Little’s Law, it states that the expected time within the system equals the arrival rate.”

Faith and Service 

Encouraged to pursue this research by Bai, Aden sought a challenge that was both relevant and interesting. He admits that he looks for opportunities as presented to help make a positive impact on the world around him, and considers his contributions carefully, which he ties equally into his love of a challenge and his personal faith.

“I believe in God. I’m a Christian,” said Aden. “I think a big part of being a human, believing in God, is to take care of our environment, and make it as good a place for everybody.”

Gentili Receives EVPRI Grant for Kidney Paired Donation Programs

May 18, 2018

Headshot of Monica GentiliAccording to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a new name is added to the list of someone who needs an organ every minute. The logistics involved in that process are staggering, and includes calculations involving the viability of a match, need, and the proximity of a donated organ to the donor as a few of the criterion required to ensure a series of checks and balances.

Dr. Monica Gentili, a researcher and faculty member in the Department of Industrial Engineering, was recently awarded an Executive Vice President for Research (EVPRI) award for her work entitled, “A simulation-optimization approach for the optimal integration of desensitization-protocols into kidney paired donation (KDP) programs.” The award is for $10,000 beginning on June 1, 2018, and ending on May 31, 2019. 

The Complexity of Organ Donation

The process for organ donation is complex, and features a number of caveats. For any organ that requires transplant, there are different sets of criterion that apply specific to the unique qualities of that organ. When a patient requires a kidney transplant, they have two options: to register and wait for a kidney from a deceased match, or to work with a living donor who is both willing and compatible.

In some cases, having a willing donor may not yield a match, in which case there are a kidney pair programs, in which two willing donors and two willing recipients are paired with the appropriate kidney going to the matching party. In others, a willing donor and patient may qualify for kidney desensitization therapy, which allows opportunities for near matches to undergo therapy, allowing for a satisfactory transplant.

Gentili’s research attempts to bridge the gap between kidney pairing programs and kidney desensitization therapy, creating a new variable which can provide further options for patients in need.

“There are several incompatibilities. I’m focusing on ABO, that is blood incompatibility, to help quantify how the number of transplants could increase if we include these studies,” said Gentili. “What I’m looking into is how to optimize the desensitization therapy to simulate this, so that we can quantify the benefit of this. Even if you have a match, maybe you have to go through the desensitization therapy to go through a successful transfer. What I’m suggesting is to include this information into a simulated environment.”

The Start

An internal award, Gentili’s EVPRI award affords her the start up funds for what she believes it the beginning of further research.

“Having preliminary data, being able to have some funds to do this to show that this could be a valuable idea.”

Alumnus Lee Evans receives Bonder Scholarship, West Point faculty position

June 15, 2018

 Lee Evans had a circuitous route through both his education and career, with one informing the other. Evans recently completed his doctorate in Industrial Engineering, which he has applied to his experience in the military in an effort to explore efficiency means for the promotional process that every officer works through. It was that research that secured Evans the Bonder Scholarship, so meant to promote the development and application of process modeling and operations research analyses for a number of applications, which he received at the 2017 INFORMS (Institute for Operations and Research and Management Science) Conference.

Promotion Boards

His research, which has been accepted to four journals including the Journal Defense Modeling and Simulation, entails applying industrial engineering concepts to how officers in the military receive promotions. Serving within the aviation branch of the military, Evans has taken his practical knowledge as an administrator in operations research and systems analysis, to look at how to better streamline these processes.

“If you want to retain talent, don’t kick out talent. The enlisted side, they do promotions differently. I focused on the officer side. The officer side is unique in that it’s all the leadership,” said Evans. “As you go up, it’s all about increasingly leadership opportunities. You’re working your way up the leadership chain. There are some exceptions to that, and I’m certainly one of them.”

Finding the right path

There is a very zen quality to Evans, who while he has pursued his various interests, has allowed room to go with the flow. A non-traditional student, Evans graduated West Point in 2000, after which he served as a Black Hawk pilot until 2007. An officer, Evans spent time at Fort Knox as an analyst working with promotion boards, before returning to college at Georgia Tech for his graduate work.

“I think my master’s was a harder transition, I literally went from Iraq to Georgia Tech over a two-month period after seven years out. I’d done slightly more technical work at Fort Knox,” Evans said. “I did a lot of analysis on promotion boards, but I didn’t have the time to put in on some of the projects that I wanted to. I thought that I could apply some of the Industrial Engineering concepts to this, and that’s how the dissertation is born.

Throughout this time, Evans revisited West Point, now as an educator with field experience. The academy offers opportunities to receive a doctorate, and Evans took that as an opportunity to return for his PhD. Since his graduate work, Evans has balanced his time in the military, his career as an educator at West Point, and his burgeoning family.

Applying Industrial Engineering Solutions to the military

Always on the search for ways that he could apply his skills to his service, he found inspiration from a former professor he had as a cadet who taught science, before securing a doctorate in physics, a non-traditional trajectory in that context. Ultimately, it was a foregone conclusion that he would move in a STEM direction, which led Evans to follow his impulses to Speed School.

“I thought I’d go back for math, it’s in my blood. I didn’t get picked up from the systems department, but the math department picked me up,” says Evans. “So I fell into operations research and industrial engineering. At the time, the chair of the math department had a PhD in IE.”

He chose Speed School, initially because of its proximity to Fort Knox, but quickly fell in love. He was impressed with how receptive the faculty in the department were to his ideas on applying industrial engineering concepts looking at how to change dynamics, or how often the frequency in the turn over in jobs, and how that affects the army’s appraisal system. Meeting with now Interim Dean DePuy, he was made to feel right at home.

“She sat down with me for 2 hours, walked me through the department, and I knew if they took that kind of time with you, I knew it was a place you needed to come,” says Evans. “They work you hard, but she took the time.”

Evans found a mentor in Dr. Ki-Hwan G. Bae, who served in the South Korean army. Even though Bae’s research is different than Evans’, that shared experience helped to inform the relationship, forging a unique bond between the two. It was through those efforts that Bae received his nomination and subsequent award for Outstanding Mentor of a Doctoral Student.

“Having worked outside of academia, I will work hard, but I just need someone to point me in the right direction. And that’s where he really came into play,” says Evans. “I wanted to come in with a topic that I was passionate about and wanted an advisor that would take the time with it. I wanted something that was going to have value, something that interested me.”

In both 2016 and 2017, Evans received the Omar Bradley Research Fellowship in Mathematics, an award given to “active duty officers of any branch of service who are actively engaged in the study of the Mathematical Sciences.” Those funds allowed Evans the latitude to travel to conferences, including one where he encountered an old colleague who tipped him off to the Bonder Scholarship.

“My former boss, who is a two star general at the Pentagon, I asked for a letter of rec from him and another from Dr. Bae. They give out two, one in healthcare applications, and one in military applications,” says Evans. “Just looking at the crowd, there is so many more for healthcare than military, which is kind of a niche topic. I brought it up to my former boss, and he knocked out a letter of rec in a day. I’ve been extremely fortunate.”